Sunday, August 24, 2014

august 2014 newsletter

Hello Prayer Partners!!

Thank y’all so much to all of you who sent kind words regarding our “issues” with our computer/electricity last month or empathizing with me on homeschooling or just saying that you were praying for us. We always appreciate the words of encouragement & are so thankful for all of you who pray so faithfully for us & the Songhai! And thank you to the many of you who have already sent invitations to us to come see you while we are in the States next year. We will be based in both Kentucky & South Dakota for the majority of our stay & will try our hardest to fulfill as many of those invitations as we can & as travel allows … especially with 3 young ones in tow!

Thank you again for your faithful prayers for our family, our team & our ministry among the Songhai. We are eternally grateful for them as they are so, so vital to everything we do here!

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker <><

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

hello, hello!

Hello Prayer Partners!! We are SOOOO sorry that it has been well over a month since you have heard from us. I am here to offer an explanation because I'm sure there are a few of you who've wondered why we didn't send out our normal monthly newsletter in July. So for those of you interested, here it is ...

On July 4, we said, "See ya later!" to our teammates, the Foxes, as they headed to the States for their stateside assignment. We decided that we'd take the next week as "stay-cation" because it was our last week before I started homeschooling Isabelle in first grade. On July 11, we welcomed 2 of our best friends who had come to visit us for 2 weeks. One was here to do water purification education with the Songhai people as part of his master's thesis & the other came simply to be a wonderful friend & give this mom a hand as I started homeschooling Isabelle. On Monday, July 14, we started our school year & I was so thankful that I had an extra set of hands to help me because homeschooling is not for the faint of heart! On Saturday, July 19, I turned on our computer to work on a project & quickly realized something was not right. After trying to troubleshoot it for well over an hour, we came to the realization that our hard drive had crashed. While we did have most of our files backed up, we did not have our 972 email contacts (that's y'all!!) backed up. I was sick to my stomach as I realized we had NO way to get in touch with you!!

After a week of trying more & more things, we decided that our only hope was to send our iMac back to the States to be repaired. But being the tenacious (that's what our friend called me; my husband calls it stubborn) person that I am, I decided to keep trying up until the day our friends left & would need to take the computer with them. Finally, with just hours to spare, we were back up & running. We joked that Apple should hire me because I restored a crashed hard drive in Africa! Ha!! But, really, it was just a HUGE blessing from the Lord that it was restored without having to either send it back or pay for it. We spent the next few days getting our computer back to it's working order with all our files (& emails!) where they belonged & I sat down last week to send an email similar to this one only for the power to cut. So now our nemesis was not the computer but the electricity! We spent the better part of last week with 3-4 hour power cuts throughout the day & night. When we finally thought all was well again, we had a huge thunderstorm on Thursday (which was a blessing because of the rain & the cool temperatures that came with it) but lightning hit our house, struck our phone line & shorted out our modem & wireless router. By Friday, we were thinking, "Can anything else happen or break this summer?!"

So before anything else does happen, I am sitting down & sending y'all an email!! Again, we apologize for the lack of communication but we know that so many of you are still faithful to pray even when you don't hear from us &, for that, we are so grateful. I know that some of you have also been concerned about us in terms of what's happening in other countries in West Africa with the Ebola virus. We are safe & it has yet to reach Niger's borders. Please continue to pray for those affected & for it to be contained quickly.

Also, you may be wondering why in the world I would start a school year in the middle of July. Well, as you all know, we will be heading to the States in mid-December for an 8 month stay in the States. I know that our traveling schedule will be very hectic as we will try to see our family (who is spread out over 5 states) & many of you & your churches who have faithfully prayed for us. So as you start planning your 2015 calendars, please think of us. We would LOVE to come see as many of you as we can & visit in your churches to speak about all that God is doing among the Songhai! If you are interested in having us come, please have your pastor, missions pastor, SS teacher (or whoever plans these things in your church!) email us as soon as possible. We really hope that we can see some of you face to face to thank you personally for all your prayers & what they have meant to us & our family!

And unless some other bizarre incident happens in the next 2 weeks, we will back with our newsletter in mid-August!

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker <><

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Volunteer Testimony: LHBC (June 2014)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”
-       John 6:47-50
            Along the banks of the Niger River, fields of millet struggle against the heat and the hard earth. The Songhai/Zarma people spend the majority of the season striving to cultivate these fields, praying fervently for rain that is so essential to their livelihood. From village to village, the Songhai welcomed us into their communities and homes, a reflection of the proud and hospitable culture they have maintained through their rich history. However, one theme remained constant within our conversations: prayers for rain.
            While not ignoring the physical needs in Niger, God is tugging on the hearts of His children among the Songhai people. He is truly sending His rain and preparing the way for a great harvest of believers. God reveals His sovereignty in all things. In every interaction, He proved that He was making a way that we could not understand or pride ourselves in, demonstrating at every turn that His sheep hear His voice. He worked every situation for His good, opening up encounters, conversations, and situations in a big way. Individuals were seeking us out with a true and genuine thirst for the redemptive story of Christ.
            Throughout villages along the roads to Gaya and Tera, we saw the gospel story told to many people who had never before heard the name of Jesus Christ. Some of those who heard believed, and many others were left with a calling towards further understanding of the message. In almost every village we encountered, people encouraged us to persevere, to not grow tired in our sharing and to return to explain the significance of Christ’s sacrifice. At other times, we were met with a degree of adversity among the Islamic leadership within the villages, but God consistently opened up avenues for conversation and deeper relationships in spite of this.
            God is moving among the Songhai people, and this past week of sharing with those who do not believe and discipling those eager new Christians who do is a testament to this. He is speaking to His children within Niger, revealing their sin and, most importantly, their need for a savior. As the week ended, we were able to see the fruit of His labor with a recap of villages who had not heard who had been reached, believers who were established within villages once unreached, and the constant effort of pulling local believers together to form church bodies within villages. However, there is still a deep need for obedience among international and local believers to spread their faith and answer Christ’s call for the church, which alone has the power to change communities. And just as the millet fields continue to rise, pray that God continues to send his rain among hearts of the women and men of the Songhai people.
- Ben H, Living Hope Baptist Church, Bowling Green, KY

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ramadan Prayer Guide

The Songhai team has come up with a prayer guide for Ramadan, which begins tomorrow. This guide has the name of 30 villages (one for each day of the Ramadan holiday). In each of these villages, there is at least one believer who will be experiencing Ramadan this year for the first time as a Christian. Essentially, this means that this believer will not celebrate a holiday that they have normally celebrated for every year of their life up to this point. More than any other time of the year, it is during this time that our believers are "set apart" from their community. While everyone else is fasting from food & water from sun up to sun down for 30 days in a row, our believers will continue to eat & drink. It may be hard for you to understand but this holiday & our believers' choice to NOT celebrate it is a BIG deal. While it does "alienate" them on some levels & brings persecution on others, it also is a great time for them to share their faith & explain why they are no longer celebrating this religious & cultural holiday.

So, if you would like, you can pray for these villages & the believers (whose names are being withheld) in them who will not be celebrating Ramadan for the first time in their life. It's a sometimes scary & lonely road to step out on their own as they take that first bite of food while everyone else sits by & stares. Pray that as everyone else is closing their mouths to fast for these 30 days, that our believers will open their mouths wide & be bold to proclaim the name of Jesus to their friends & family. Pray that this holiday would be a time where the believers take a deeper & firmer stand in their faith & not turn back to their former religion just because they are afraid of standing out. Pray that God would use this time in their lives to grow them in their faith in ways they'd never imagine.

*This prayer guide is a 4x6 card. Feel free to print it out & post it on your fridge, stick it in your Bible, tape it to your bathroom mirror, or just use it however you desire.

Friday, June 20, 2014

June 2014 newsletter

Dear Prayer Partners,

I cannot believe that we are already 6 months into this year!!! In another 6 months, we will be writing our newsletters from America while we begin our stateside assignment! Each month as I sit to write down all that has happened over the last month, I am always so humbled & amazed at all the Lord does each & every month among the Songhai. The Psalms speak so many times of recounting the wondrous deeds of God. And that's exactly what these newsletters feel like ... recalling all of the WONDERFUL things that God has done through your prayers!! We cannot thank you enough for your faithful prayer support for us, our Songhai believers & the ministry among the Songhai here in Niger!!

Again, I had to do a 2-page newsletter because there was just SO much to write about & praise God for! This newsletter really is just one huge praise after another. We hope that you will feel VERY encouraged as you read through all of the ways your prayers have been answered! I did not mention 2 things in the newsletter but they are definitely worth mentioning here ...

1. Ramadan begins in 8 days. If you aren't familiar with this Muslim holiday, do a quick Google search & read about it. Last year at this time, there were 30 new believers that were going to face this holiday (& not celebrate it) for the first time as a follower of Christ. This year there are 157 (ONE HUNDRED FIFTY SEVEN!!!!) NEW believers that will face this holiday as a follower of Christ & no longer a follower of Mohammed. Nothing else in all the year will make them stand apart from their former religion as them not celebrating this religious & cultural holiday. Please pray for these men & women to remain firm in their faith during these 30 days & faithful to Christ.

2. Jody & Sarah Fox (& their 3 girls) will leave Niger in 2 weeks after serving the Songhai team for 3 years. Their plans (& ours!) are for them to return January 2015. Please pray for them as they wrap up their ministry this next week in Boubon, say goodbye to their friends & pack up their house that has been their home for the last 2.5 years. It will be a HUGE transition, especially for their girls, to move back to the States & your prayers for them would be greatly appreciated.

Thank y'all again so much for loving on us & praying for us!

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker Phillips <><

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Weekly Prayer Focus: Discipleship Training for Women

Please be in prayer for the Discipleship Training for women that will be happening starting today! You may remember a prayer request about this in January. Unfortunately, in January, none of the women we invited were able to attend. We were afraid that this type of teaching for our female believers would never happen due to the demand & responsibilities placed on women in the Songhai culture. But the Lord knew that January was not the time & this month is what He had planned all along.

Starting tomorrow, 14 women will be traveling to Niamey to attend the FIRST EVER discipleship training for women. We are so excited!! Considering the total number of female believers among the Songhai we work with, 14 is like 75% of those women!! We are beside ourselves that the Lord is bringing all of this together & we cannot wait to dig into the Word with these women!

Pray with us for the Lord to use this time for His glory & reknown. Pray that these women would grow deeper & deeper in their relationship with the Lord, in their knowledge of Him & His Word & in their love for their Savior. Pray that the walls of defense that these women have built up after having been immersed in a male-driven culture for so long would break down ... that they would see their worth in their Heavenly Father's eyes, they would know His love for them & that He would soften their hearts to Him. Pray that they may be able to stay focused & attentive during the lessons & retain all that they are learning. And pray that they would take His Name & the story of His salvation & love to their friends, family, children, husbands, etc in their villages.

May 2014 newsletter

Dear Prayer Partners,

We hope this finds you all doing well & enjoying nice temperatures in the States. We are actually experiencing a "cool" day today in Niger. It is below 100 degrees!! It's 99 to be exact. But it's still below 100!! We had a nice, big rain on Sunday evening that keep sprinkling into yesterday morning & the cloud cover has stayed around for another day. Our Africans friends say it's cold outside!! We are just enjoying a few days without sweating! Ha!! : )

Thank y'all so much for praying for us through this last month. We are so very grateful for your prayer support for our family, our team & the Songhai people. We are also so very grateful for your gifts to the IMB that keep us here on the field & allow us to do what we have been called to do. We never ever take for granted that your giving allows us this opportunity to minister among the Songhai & we never ever take for granted that your prayers are what sustain us. Thank you.

For the first time in our newsletter history, I had to make a 2-page newsletter! There's just so much to tell & so much going on that it wouldn't fit all on one page. But I was also able to include a few pictures for your viewing pleasure. : ) Thank you again for your love & prayers & support!! We are so blessed by each of you!

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker <><

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Weekly Prayer Focus: NLTS 0

Please be in prayer for a large group of new believers that will be receiving our initial discipleship training course, NLTS 0, this weekend. The lessons will be taught by a team from FBC Hurst, TX & will be conducted over a 2.5 day period. Pray for understanding of all 12 lessons that are taught including teachings on Creation, The Bible, Jesus, Salvation, Faith, etc. Pray for growth in these believers' faith & wisdom as well as a deeper love for their Savior. Pray for sweet times of fellowship with other believers as well as times of encouragement between the men. Many of these believers have faced persecution for following Christ & while that is never easy, it is an encouragement to know that there are others who share your burdens and can pray in understanding for you.

Pray also for the team of 2 men from TX that will be teaching. The days are incredibly hot here right now (up to 115 in the day) & although their teachings will take place inside the "HUB" there will be no air conditioning, only fans blowing around the hot air. Pray for stamina & health for these men.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

april 2014 newsletter

Dear Prayer Partners,

Thank you SO much for praying for us for this last month!! We have had quite a few "stresses" (I guess you could say) regarding personal or family matters on our team. I think each one of our families has been hit hard by something this last month. From the Saleebys (& really, all of us as a team) dealing with the medical issues surrounding Randy to the Foxes trying to finish their term well amidst the rising temperatures & cultural stresses to our family dealing with an ailing parent in the States & a bout with malaria for Mark, it has been a month of trial for each of us personally. But we are SO very encouraged to know that all of you are praying for us - both for our personal lives & our ministry. Thank you. Even when you don't know all the details, we know that you are faithful to pray & that brings us so much encouragement on those "hard" days.

I also wanted to say a HUGE "THANK YOU!!!!!!!" to all those who are participating in the Adopt-a-Road project! Just this morning I added our 100th prayer partner to that project. I am on the verge of tears as I am just so amazed & humbled & grateful to the Lord for answering our prayer to have 100 people praying for these roads where we do ministry!! Even amidst our personal trials, we have been so encouraged & blessed by what God is doing among the Songhai on these roads! God is truly blessing the ministry of your prayers & the bold proclamations of the Gospel along these roads. Thank you!!

We are also excited to have Randy home today!! We met him at the airport this afternoon & were so glad to hug his neck!! We are blessed beyond measure to have a team who loves each others & feels each other's absences with great pain. We are so glad Randy is home!! Thank you for praying for him while he's been on medical leave & for his continued health & healing.

We love all of you so much & are so blessed by your partnership with us in reaching the Songhai!!

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker <><

Friday, March 28, 2014

Volunteer Testimony: FBC Franklin (March 2014)

If you have the opportunity to go on a mission trip and are able to go, I pray you will say, “Yes Lord.”  Perhaps you are afraid, lack the money, or feel inadequate. Consider how big our God is. He will clear the way.
God does not need us to accomplish His purpose. Instead, he allows us to be a part of his plan. WOW moments from our team included: Being the first person to say the name of Jesus in a village that has never heard His name, sharing the gospel with a woman who has persecuted Christians and then praying with her as she repented and accepted Jesus and then seeing a new light in her eyes, witnessing to workers at a goldmine and seeing the crowd grow as they pressed in to hear the true treasure of God’s word, helping believers learn a new skill so they can support their families and seeing believers have joy and hope in a hopeless environment!
It’s impossible to describe the heaviness of our hearts as we realized that the thousands of people we passed on the road are going to spend eternity in hell unless other Christians respond. The population of Niger is 17 million. Over the week, our small team divided into three groups and shared the gospel with perhaps 2000. Only God knows if the seeds we sowed will mature and be harvested.
Last year we conducted Bible School in a village. Perhaps 50 children received t-shirts with the logo “His Sheep Hear His Voice.” Jonathan ran across a child in the market wearing one of the t-shirts. The odds of seeing one of the same children was astronomical. I see it as God affirmation that He will reap the harvest.
One of our team members used his artistic gifts to develop pictograms to educate the Songhai on water sanitation and purification practices. For more information go to this link:  Jonathan Oglesby’s work is groundbreaking and may revolutionize teaching methods in the poorest places on earth. He said, “As much as they suffer for water; they suffer more for the living water.”  This is an example of how God uses each of our unique gifts to grow his kingdom. But we have to step outside of our comfort zone and be obedient. What are your special gifts?
I plan to return to Niger in 2016 and hope by then there are no more villages that have never heard the name of Jesus. For that to happen, someone else must go. I’m committed to continuing to go, as long as I’m physically able. God does not call us to go, He commands it. I pray that you will say, “Yes Lord.”
If you have time and would like to read about the experience of someone on the mission field who is afraid and inadequate, check out my personal blog at  Over the next few weeks, I’ll make a post for each day. If God can use me and my limited talents, He can use you.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekly Prayer Focus: NLTS 7.1

So sorry that I've let a few weeks go by without doing any of these. Things have been crazy busy around these parts with volunteer teams & other going-ons. We also launched our new Adopt-a-Road project & with sending out updates (sometimes weekly & sometimes daily) for 8 areas, I've let the ole blog updates slip up.

But for this week, would y'all please pray for our 7th installment of NLTS? We are so humbled & amazed at how God has taken this dream of training our believers in theology & made it bigger than we ever imagined. We never dreamed that it'd get so large & reach so many different peoples, that we'd have to divide it up into 2 segments. This week, we have the privilege of training men from the Road to Ayorou, Niamey & men from a people group other than the Songhai.

This week these men are studying the book of Acts. Mark posted on Twitter recently: "Message of Acts: The church is powered by the Holy Spirit & grown through persecution so that she might bear witness to Christ. We pray for the power and we hope for the witnesses but we don't want the persecution."

These men can definitely understand what it means to be persecuted. This is not a foreign concept to them. Pray that they will be able to retain all they learn about & from the book of Acts this week. Pray that God would use these men to grow His church in Niger. Pray for these men to have a passion to share His name with those in their villages that have yet to hear. And pray that God would give them the endurance to withstand the needed persecution to grow His church in their villages.

Volunteer Testimony: LHBC (February 2014)

"...And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?"
             -Romans 10:14

Stop and ponder that statement by Paul for a moment.  How often in your day-to-day life do you actually come by someone who has never heard the Gospel?  Whether we are at work, running errands, or at a sporting event or concert, do we pass by people who do not know the love that God has for them?  Are there people out there who do not recognize their need for a Savior to pay the sin debt that we have no hope of satisfying on our own merit?

Our missionary team encountered this very scenario time and time again this week, and it was truly a privilege to be witness to the shining of the light of Jesus on lives enslaved to darkness.  Our team departed on the Road to Gaya with the intent of living out the motto on the Songhai team website: sow with hope, reap with humility.  There were some challenges that had the potential to interfere with our ability to share: would our bodies hold up to several days on a difficult-to-travel road?  Would fatigue set in and cloud our minds and confuse our words?  Would stepping out of our "comfort zone" make us too uncomfortable?  God took those worries and used them to humble us.  We never gave these concerns another thought once we started our journey.  As our pastor at Living Hope has said before, "Everything is small to God."

It was apparent from the initial contact in the first village that God had gone before us to open the minds and hearts of His people.  We encountered an openness and willingness to listen that could only be the result of the work of God.  In a country that in 99% Muslim, the message of Christ was proclaimed with little to no opposition or argument.  We were welcomed in each of the 9 villages we visited.  Even in villages where no one was ready to accept Christ, we were told by everyone to come back and share again because they need to hear more.  Many times, we were sought out by an individual rather than having to approach them; God was sending His sheep to us!  A man told the team that this message needed to be shared with the women (a radical statement in Islamic culture).

Whenever a person expressed a desire to become a follower of Christ, we emphasized that the Bible calls them "a new creation," and that their old religion and its associated beliefs were no more.  Each man, without hesitation, affirmed his decision.  The look of amazement and wonder on the faces of those who had never heard the Gospel story was something I will remember the rest of my life.  It was as if you could see God "putting it all together" for them as the plan for salvation was revealed.

God provided a plentiful harvest.  In all, 30 men accepted the invitation to become followers of Jesus.  While only God can know their heart, my hope is that all these men were sincerely drawn to God and will remain strong in their new faith despite the radical life changes or persecution that may come.  Chains were broken as these men experienced true forgiveness of the sin that had shackled them their entire lives.  There was great rejoicing in Heaven at the redemption of these men.  I praise God for a safe journey and the honor of serving alongside the Songhai missionary team.  I pray that these men will grow in their faith and can be used by God to continue to call the Songhai to Himself.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
 - John 1:5

--- Caleb B, LHBC, Bowling Green, KY

march 2014 newsletter

Dear Prayer Partners,

Can y'all believe that March is more than half way over with already?! This year seems to be flying! Since our last newsletter, besides ministry, our family has celebrated Luke's 4th birthday, John Cole turning 6 months old (wasn't he just born yesterday?!) & my birthday (Parker). So in between our family celebrations, the last NLTS class, hosting a volunteer team, & trips to the villages, we've had a lot going on!

Thank y'all so much for your prayers for our ministry & our family. And thank you to everyone who committed to Adopt-a-Road. We are seeing so much fruit from this already with an openness like none other in the villages we are working in. We are so thankful for the 83 of you who have committed to pray daily for these roads!!

And again, there was just too much to put in the newsletter ministry-wise (which is always a GOOD thing!), I didn't have room for pictures or a volunteer testimony.

Love y'all & appreciate y'all more than words can say! Thank you for being our "rope holders"! Your prayers are so vital to us & we cannot thank you enough for your support!

that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker <><

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What Do the Foxes Say? March 2014

I remember many important milestones in my children’s lives. Their first smile, first time sitting up, then crawling (army style for C*), first time eating baby food, and then of course their first steps. It’s so exciting to watch a baby grow and learn these things in front of your eyes. And I’ve tried my best to record these events in a baby book and by taking pictures.

The same is true spiritually. When someone first becomes a believer they are an infant in the faith. But the goal is not for them to stay that way. We want them to grow into a healthy and strong believer.  I also know this doesn’t happen overnight.  We have to be patient and gracious with new believers. We can’t expect them to know everything and do everything right all of the time -­‐ just like we don’t expect our children to be walking and talking in their first week of life!

I’d like to share with you some milestones of the people we work with. These may seem small to you, but they are steps in the right direction.  

This past week S* (a baptized believer) prayed out loud in front of a group for the first time! She’s been meeting with me for well over a year and I’ve asked her to pray several times. She’s always laughed and said no, I don’t know how to. Even when it was just the two of us, she would not be willing. But this week we were meeting with her and two other women and Sakina agreed to pray. I was very excited at her reaching this milestone!

Another exciting event was when Jody was playing Luke 2 on the proclaimer, M* (a 9 yr. old girl, sister of A*) was quoting the words right before they would play. Even though we’ve focused a lot of time teaching her parents and brother, she has been listening and learning! Pray for her salvation.

About a month ago S* and I* came to our church meeting. They are not believers, but at the end they wanted to pray for God to protect Jody while he was in Senegal. This seems like baby steps as God is opening their hearts to want to understand Christianity. Pray for their salvation.

Lastly, a woman named H*, who is the mother-in-law of one of the believers, had been against our message and said we were not welcome in her compound. This week she showed up at our house and wanted me to teach her! Pray for her as well!

• Praise the Lord that we had our biggest church meeting. Many were unbelievers, but we are grateful for more people coming to hear.
• Pray for the Songhai team as we meet this month and learn more about community development opportunities for Niger.
• Pray that the Lord will open the hearts of three men named S*, I* and H*.• Pray that our believers will share their faith with others in our village.
• Pray for Jody because he is taking a seminary class this semester.
• Pray for Sarah balancing homeschool, family, and out of the home ministry.
• Pray for strength that we would finish our first term with health and diligence.

Recently we have had to do things to prepare for our home assignment (coming up from July 2014 - Dec 2014). With all of those preparations our minds have been thinking about what the transition will be like coming to the states after living in Niger for 3 years. Our two youngest hardly remember anything about the U.S. and so it will be like a whole new world to them. So, I’ve compiled a list of things that our kids have done in Niger that are completely normal and ordinary for them. But...if they were to tell their family, friends, or teachers in America... the response may be “You did WHAT???”

1. Ate grasshoppers and called them a ‘snack’
2. Rode a donkey
3. Crossed the Niger River (with hippos) on a canoe
4. Slept outside under a mosquito net
5. Stayed up way past bedtime watching the Jesus film outside
6. Bought bread by ourselves using the Zarma language
7. Helped make pottery
8. Have visited 4 other African countries
9. Saw a cobra
10. Had to ride a boat and walk to get to church (took 45 min.)
11. Saw a scorpion in our bathtub
12. Had a cow market right outside our gate each week
13. Ziplined over the Zambezi River by Victoria Falls
14. Constantly saw people with babies on motorcycles
15. Tumbled down sand dunes
16. Ate rice and sauce using our hands
17. Haven’t worn shoes in three years (only flip flops or bare feet)
18. Learned a new language
19. Have a pet tortoise, goat, and cat
20. Peed on a squatty potty
21. Lived with an African family for three days

So we think our kids are pretty amazing...Let’s just hope they can learn to tie shoes and ride a bike before too long!!!

• Praise the Lord for a healthy month!
• Praise the Lord for a safe and fun vacation to Burkina Faso.
• Pray for perseverance in school.
• Pray for continued building of friendships and sharing the gospel with these friends.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

february 2014 newsletter

Dear Prayer Partners,

Thank y'all so much for praying for us this last month. We have had a GREAT month of finding new villages on our roads &, just this week, seeing a TON of fruit on the Road to Gaya through the faithful witness of a volunteer team from Bowling Green, Ky. We are in constant awe of all that God is doing among the Songhai & how He is continuing to call them out of darkness & into the Light. Thank you for praying for our team, our volunteers, our believers, our national partners & for the Songhai that have yet to hear of, know about or choose to follow Christ.

In "technical" news, our email has been a little wacky lately &, apparently, we've not been receiving emails here & there. If you have emailed us lately & have not heard back from us, please resend your email ... especially if it is in regards to Adopting a Road. All those who signed up should have already received their "quick start" guide & been receiving updates for things happening in the last 3 weeks on your respective roads. It's still not too late to sign up to Adopt a Road. We are VERY excited about having y'all partner with us on a deeper level & getting word to you about daily/weekly happenings on these roads. We would love to have 100 of you sign up to join us in this project!

that ALL may know HIM,

mark & parker <><

Friday, February 14, 2014

What Do the Foxes Say? (February 2014)

For the past year we have been encouraging our believers to meet together each week for worship and Bible study. For the most part they have done well and we have been
encouraged. At the end of January, Jody was not able to meet with the believers because he had a trip with our company to Senegal. However, Sarah and the girls were able to meet with 2 of our believers. Upon starting, 2 of Jody’s unbelieving friends also showed up for the meeting. They listened to Luke chapter 7 and Sarah and Solomon, one of our national believes, helped lead a discussion. The group came to the conclusion that Jesus was indeed God.

When it came time to close Sarah informed everybody that the meeting was done. But the two unbelievers insisted that they pray for Jody while he traveled. So right there these two unbelieving men prayed to the Lord for Jody.

Please keep these men in your prayers that the Lord would to do a mighty work in their lives.

Prayer Points
Praise the Lord that the sickness Sarah and the girls faced this past month is over!
• Praise the Lord that 2 unbelievers came and met with our believers in our weekly meeting.
• Pray that the Lord will open the hearts of three men named Sam, Isaac and Henry.
• Pray that our believers will share their faith with others in our village.
• Pray for Jody because he is taking a seminary class this quarter.
• Pray for Sarah balancing homeschool, family, and out of the home ministry.
• Pray for strength that we would finish our first term with health and diligence.

Our Little Girls
• Our girls have been sick this past month, so pray that the Lord will give them health in the months to come.
• Pray for salvation as the oldest two understand the gospel and are contemplating this decision.
• Pray for perseverance in school.
• Pray that Jordan will continue to learn to read.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Weekly Prayer Focus: NLTS 6.1

We are in the midst of our 6th NLTS classes!! We are still so humbled & amazed that God has allowed us this opportunity to create an Oral Theological School for our national believers (who are predominately illiterate).

What we are even MORE amazed by is the fact that our believers & leaders have grown so large in number that we not only have 1 set of students in this course but 2 sets!! The class was getting so large at the last NLTS that the Songhai team had to decide to divide them in half. So while we would normally teach 4 classes over the course of a year, we now have to teach each class twice for a total of 8 classes. Praise the Lord for continuing to call these Songhai brothers out of darkness & into the Light & for raising up these men to be leaders in their villages & their homes!

Pray for the men this week as they study Personal Evangelism. Pray that they would retain all they learned & would increase in their desire to share their faith & their boldness to do so. Pray that they would also be able to adequately communicate all they've learned to their churches or outreach groups in their villages.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Adopt a Road

We'd like to issue a challenge to y'all for this year. We truly believe that 2014 is going to be another great year among the Songhai but it's going to be one that NEEDS to be rooted in prayer. R.A. Torrey said, "Prayer unlocks the storehouses of God's infinite grace & power." We are asking that at least 100 of you commit to praying with a more intentional focus for the Songhai this year & unlock the storehouses for the Songhai in 2014. As you know, we have 8 areas of focus (the 7 Roads plus Niamey, our HUB). We are asking that you "adopt" one of these roads & pray daily for it. You can see the image below for more info, if you are interested. If you'd like to join us in this challenge, you can simply email us with the name of the area you'd like to adopt.

January 2014 newsletter

Dear Prayer Partners,

2014 is here & we are so excited about all that God is going to do among the Songhai this year! Thank you so much for coming on board with us for another year of praying for the Songhai. We are so humbled & so grateful for your prayer support! Thank you also to all of you who gave to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. If you didn't have a chance to give yet, it's not too late.

If you'll notice in the newsletter, there are "bold" statements under each of the Roads. These are our Songhai team goals for 2014 for each of these roads. In the last newsletter, we listed all the things that God had done among the Songhai in 2013 & now we are asking you to pray for these goals to become a reality in 2014. You will also see some things that have happened over the last month & we are just amazed at all God is ALREADY doing this year!! We truly serve an amazing God who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine!

Thank you again for your commitment to pray for us, our team & the Songhai!
that ALL may know HIM,

Mark & Parker Phillips <><

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Weekly Prayer Focus: Discipleship Training for Women

I had hoped to write this post to ask y'all to pray for the first-ever Discipleship Training for women that we were to conduct this weekend. However, we had to postpone it. The female believers among the Songhai are small in number & we had hoped & prayed that we would be able to provide them with an in-depth time of teaching & training, much like what Randy does with the men (but not quite as extensive as an NLTS). For some women, they are the only believers in their families & the only female believers in their villages. This time of training would allow them to not only grow in their knowledge of their faith, it would also allow them the opportunity to have fellowship with other like-minded Songhai women.

So, for now, the training is postponed until a further date. Women have so many responsibilities here from caring for the children, cooking for the entire family, & cleaning. They also have obligations within their communities to care for extended family members during the birth of a child or helping with the festivities involved in a wedding. All of these responsibilities (& more) is what kept most of the women from being able to commit to come to Niamey for a 36-hour period. There were a few who would've been able to attend but we decided to postpone it until the majority could attend together.

Please pray that the Lord would allow these women a "break" from their responsibilities just long enough for them to receive this training. Pray that we'd be able to do this first round of training soon as we'd like to provide this for them at least 3 more times over the year.

Pray that these women would grow in their knowledge of the Scriptures, their love for the Lord & their boldness to share with their families & friends the hope they've found in Christ. There are so many "obstacles" to overcome with women here about who they think they are vs the truth of who God has called them to be & how God view them. Pray that, more than anything, they know they are loved & adored by the One True God & He thinks they are so worthy!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Weekly Prayer Focus: Kandi, Benin

In late fall of 2013, Mark was doing a regular check-up of the Songhai whereabouts on the internet. It's a thing he likes to do a few times each year to see if there are any mentions of the Songhai on the world wide web & to also see if the Songhai have been located elsewhere in the world. Well, sure enough, on one of his checks on Joshua's Project, he found that they had located Songhai in Benin & were considering them a UUPG. This was brand new information to our team!!

And, not only that there were Songhai in Benin, they were on the same road that we are already engaging ... just further down & across a country's border. So in early December, the men on the team (Mark, Randy, Jody & Cephas) decided to go check out this town & see if it was true. They arrived in time for lunch, grabbed a bite to eat & headed to the market. They gave themselves 2 full days to find the Songhai in this large town because they had no clue where they were at, just that they were there somewhere. Upon entering the market, they decided to start greeting people in Songhai to see if anyone responded (then they'd know they'd either found the Songhai or found someone who knew enough of the language to point them in the direction). It didn't take long (about 2 seconds, actually) before they realized that 90% of the people in the market spoke a dialect of Songhai! They had found the Songhai & it only took 2 seconds!!

They made a few contacts & decided to come on home the next day (much to the wives & children's delight!). The Phillips family (now of 5!) decided to do a follow-up trip to this town the first week of January. Now that we knew for sure there were Songhai there, our goal now was to find what areas of town they lived in & establish more contacts. We found that there are 3 areas of this town where the Songhai live: 2 are still in the town (1 close to the market & 1 at the edge of town) & the other is an entire village 5 km outside the town!! We were able to meet with the chief of this village & he told us that he'd been living there for 20 years!!

So now that we know the Songhai are there & we know where they're at, we now need your prayers in determining how to reach them. There are many options for this, some of which are engaging them as a team, engaging them with volunteer teams OR working with local churches in the town (we came across at least a half dozen but we're sure there are more) to engage the Songhai who are literally living as their neighbors. Please pray for our team as we prayerfully consider how the Lord wants to use us to engage the Songhai of Kandi, Benin!